Kim Clijsters wonders if Ash Barty could be tempted back to tennis tour

Ian Chadband
AAP
Ash Barty, who's been on TV duty back at Wimbledon, has had her return to tennis delayed. (AP PHOTO)
Ash Barty, who's been on TV duty back at Wimbledon, has had her return to tennis delayed. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AAP

Ash Barty’s eagerly awaited return to Wimbledon action, taking part in a legends’ invitational event, has been put on hold because of yet more rain.

But the retired 2021 champion’s comeback in the purely fun event hasn’t stopped a former great, Kim Clijsters, who made a famously successful return after becoming a mother, musing over whether the 28-year-old Australian ace could still be tempted to do the same.

The wretched weather on Tuesday ensured that Barty’s planned showcourt return with her best mate Casey Dellacqua against Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova had to be shelved.

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But it didn’t stop her fellow former stars getting enthused about the return of the champion making her first return to the court since she announced her shock retirement from the sport when the world No.1 in March two years ago.

Returning to SW19 as the mother of a one-year-old boy Hayden, Barty has been quick on her return to insist that taking up this invitation is a one-off bit of fun and not the prelude to a proper competitive comeback.

But fellow ‘legend’ Clijsters, another former world No.1 who once felt the same after becoming a mother only to make a stunning grand slam-winning return, wonders if Barty could also get the competitive itch again, just like another former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, a mum of two, did last year.

“It sounds very similar to me many years ago,” said Clijsters.

“First of all, I’m excited she’s back. I never got to play against Ash, but I’ve practised against her before, so it’s exciting to have her playing on the legends tour.

“A few years ago I was the youngest legend out there, but I’m definitely not any more. It’s cool - and who knows? Last year, seeing Caroline Wozniacki practice in between our legends matches, we were all like, ‘What are you doing? Why are you practising this much?’

“So there is definitely a part of me that hopes she gets triggered by the challenge and the adventure that it is to come back on tour with a family.

“It will be interesting. I don’t know if she has any desire. I hope I get to play against her and have a chat.”

Best pal Dellacqua reported that between her BBC TV commentating commitments, Barty had been looking good on court.

“She’s playing really well, feeling good, excited and she’s a busy girl this week. She’s been hitting the ball really well,” Dellacqua said.

“There is no doubt, if she wanted to, at 28, if she put the work in, trained and played, 100 per cent she could be back at the top. Absolutely - but she is really happy.”

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